Human nature is complex and at times counterproductive. Take our general resistance to change; our innate fear of stepping out of our comfort zone, even when common sense dictates there are easier ways to do things. We embrace our habits like they are a lifeline. All too often we will go down with the ship, rather than jump in and swim. Interestingly enough, it really isn’t fear of change that paralyzes us; it is fear of the unknown. We get braver with preparation and practice.
One item at a time, or a list packed with purpose?
Consider your sales team. If you turn an introspective eye on them, what do you see? Are they approaching their day with bad habits, or are they practicing common sense? How do they line up their calls? Is it a random, time-consuming hunting and pecking process, or do they build an efficient call list before dialing?
An ounce of preparation nets a wealth of results.
In order to be efficient, you must make it a habit to stay organized. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes a comfort zone. In Salesforce you should be able to easily find any group of Leads or Contacts that you want to call. If you are having trouble organizing Contacts, try adding a custom Status field with values similar to the Lead Statuses. Use the Status fields in conjunction with other relevant information such as Title, Last Activity, or Mailing State. At the minimum, reps should be able to easily get to a list of open tasks, new leads, leads and contacts that need to be followed-up with, and any responses to marketing campaigns that have been passed to sales. The Sales Team can now generate a call list that eliminates the time and effort it takes to figure out who to call.
It’s Called Power Hour
The beauty of a list is that it allows for momentum in the calling process. Imagine what could get accomplished if you scheduled a few hours a week where reps did nothing but focus on call lists. Scheduled hours that are dedicated to call lists – and that avoid phone calls, inbound emails and meetings can bump up production. Something that should be considered a new best practice.
Supercharge the sales process.
ShadeTree Technology’s Incite2 allows sales reps to load any list into the app, see all activities on one page, and with one click they can advance to the next call in seconds. The workload lightens and suddenly call volume triples and company profits increase. Make common sense, common practice – and take it to the bank.
The Traditional Sales “Strategy”:
There’s a vicious cycle that plagues a lot of sales efforts today. It looks kind of like this:
- Caffeinate – Slug back 20 oz coffee and give yourself a pep-talk. Today is the day.
- Wing it – Work like a person on fire and hope “the flow” will just happen.
- Rejection – The flow didn’t happen. Why didn’t the flow happen? More caffeine.
- Overwhelmed– The flow cannot be found, no matter how hard I try. Prayer offered.
- Panic – The axe is coming, because the flow isn’t happening. More prayer.
- Justify – Report imaginary numbers to delay the axe from coming. We’re good, really we are.
- Realization – The process isn’t working. Something needs to change.
Hope is not a strategy and by itself, a tragedy. Sure, you may get lucky once in awhile but I doubt your company is all that excited about your occasional lucky streaks. What they get really excited about is regular, consistent sales results they can use to build their business month-after-month.
A Simplified Sales Strategy
If you think about almost any other type of work where something complex is built, there are principles that make all the difference between successful completion of goals, and getting lucky from time to time:
Developing a Plan
Some of the best advice we’ve heard about planning comes from the late great Stephen R Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.” What is the end goal for your business? If you are in sales there’s probably a quota that is the primary objective of your job: X Dollars per X timeframe. If a company does not begin their sales strategy with concrete goals, they will not have any idea if they have achieved them. Many salespeople fail simply because they do not set realistic achievable goals for themselves to start with.
Measure and Adjust
Set up milestones to determine if goals are being reached in a productive way. Breaking these goals down into smaller chunks will enable sales professionals to keep track of where they are. Am I still on track for the month? If not, then the sales plan needs to be changed. At this point, it is easy to see what points within the sales cycle need to be adjusted in order to make a productive change.
Report True Projections
For a manager trying to determine the health of their sales team’s efforts, and the level of completion of their goals, true numbers are a must. By reporting exactly what the sales team is up to and demonstrating the results match the companies plan, sales managers can determine if their efforts are paying off.
Does your sales team follow this simplified strategy? Or, are they stuck in a never ending vicious cycle of imaginary numbers and caffeine?
The Great Pyramid of Giza built in 2584 BC; the beautiful Sistine Chapel constructed in 1473, and our own White House, whose cornerstone was laid in 1792, would have undoubtedly never stood against time, without a building plan. Greatness requires a plan, but how many sales people shortcut the planning stage in their day?
Exactly what is a plan?
It is the map you follow; a task management tool that allows you to efficiently navigate the road you travel toward your goal. It helps you budget your time, monitor your progress, side-step bad habits, and recognize a crisis before it happens. It aids in decision making, and it ultimately enables you to build a competitive edge.
Why wouldn’t every sales call be preceded by planning, when we know planning works?
It is fact that most calls don’t end in a conversation – and that alone would tend to make it feel like the planning is a waste of time, especially when the steps in the planning process are both tedious and time consuming. Sometimes it just feels easier to wing it and jump into the fray. Someone who has been working in sales a longtime may step over some of the planning, feeling assured that their gut instinct and experience, will fill in the blanks. Someone new to the game may not always see the reasoning for some of the steps in the planning process. There are times that the pressure to make the number of goal driven calls in a day makes if feel like there isn’t enough time for thorough planning. There are a multitude of reasons for short-cutting the planning, but still, the value of the planning is undeniable.
What is the cause of insufficient planning?
It lies in the fact that the process is time consuming and complex – because each target is unique, and the information you need is scattered across countless web pages. The note gathering lacks efficiency, and gaining a solid view of the whole picture is very difficult.
What would be on the wish list that would take the sting out of pre-call planning?
Ideal would mean having all of your information at your finger tips, all on one page. It would mean that right from the beginning, when an account was first created in your data bank, every piece of information associated with it would be automatically sent to one place, where you could view it collectively. In that single location you not only would have your research visible, but call prompts that were tailored for success – and a complete history of all your hard work displayed. There would be an active timeline that you could hover over with a mouse to gleam the details, allowing you to see at a glance see where you’ve been, as well as where you need to go.
If you had the information and capabilities of a checklist at your fingertips – all on one computer screen, would your job be easier? Could you make more calls, in less time? Would you be better prepared for your calls? Would automatically documenting your calling history help? Can you imagine your rate of success going up?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!